Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 Site Review

Bring Back Universal Analytics!

This post presents site data for 2023, but before I start, there is some disappointing business to relate.  During 2023 Google Analytics shut down its previous version, which had been faithfully recording data here since 2013, and switched to a new version called Google Analytics 4.  As best I can determine GA-4 is in some respects terrible, or if it isn't terrible in these respects, working out how to quickly make it work like the old version is beyond me.  (The full transition to the new version involved instructions that were way beyond my understanding).  In particular, from Oct 5 onwards, I lost the obvious ability to track unique pageviews, which were defined as "the number of sessions during which the specified page was viewed at least once".  Unique pageviews was a very useful statistic to capture whether users were visiting the same page over several days, without also capturing whether they were hitting refresh repeatedly during live coverage.

I was very familiar with the way the previous version worked, and another result of the switch to the new version is that I can no apparently longer directly compare the interest levels in specific articles from this year onwards with articles from previous years.  

Do tech corps that make changes like this even bother to think or care that they might be disrupting the continuity of someone's experience, and damaging their enjoyment of the service?  

Anyway, on with the show as best I can.  The activity graph below shows the total number of users visiting per week.

The biggest spike in late March is for the NSW state election, followed by the Voice referendum in late October.  There are also some small spikes including for the Fadden by-election (Aston is mostly lost in the NSW spike).  There was a generally fairly high level of interest leading up to the Voice after a quiet start to the year.  Overall I estimate traffic was down 52% on 2022 (which was the site's biggest year to date), still making it the sixth biggest year so far, which isn't bad at all given that 2023 contained neither a Tasmanian or a federal election.  Indeed 2023 just beat 2021 which had a Tasmanian state election.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Can Twitter "Polls" Predict Newspoll Changes? (Interim Results)

It's an almost annual tradition on this site to release something every Christmas Day. Click the Xmas tag for previous random examples.  Why do I do this?  Partly it's a present for those who like Christmas, which in a very low-key non-religious fashion includes your host, but it's also a present for those who don't want to deal with this particular Christmas or even generally cannot stand Christmas and just wish it was a normal day when normal things happened.  And what could be more normal than niche meta-psephology?  Therefore, the campaign against compulsory Christmasing brings you ... whatever this is.  

Over the past few years I've been running opt-in Twitter "polls" for the amusement of my followers there, similar to the Not-A-Polls in this site's sidebar. 

This started with the October 2020 Budget, because Budgets attract speculation about Budget bounces in party polling, but these bounces only rarely actually occur.  

The "poll" got this one wrong.  The Morrison government's 2PP rose by one point from 51 to 52.  

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Not-A-Poll Reset 5 of 2023: Fyles Resigns

The most recent sidebar round of the Next Leader To Go Not-A-Poll did not last very long!  It had been up just four days when NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles followed Annastacia Palaszczuk out the door.  Fyles started her Chief Minister career as a popular choice to replace Michael Gunner and seemed for a while to be going well, with her party retaining a couple of loseable by-elections on her watch.  But early this year I started to hear anecdotally that stuff was going weird up there.  Again.

The government was under the pump for failing to control a sharp rise in crime (particularly property offences and assault including domestic violence).  It also appeared to be very unpopular, though a Redbridge poll implying something like a 40-60 drubbing across most of the Territory was likely to be on the harsh side.  (Somehow, even that poll didn't by itself move betting odds that had Labor at $1.25 vs $4!) But the killer was that Fyles herself came under criticism for a string of conflict of interest scandals involving mining and gas industry interests.  The news of undisclosed mining industry shares in the last week was one "I've declared everything ... oops no I haven't" too many and Fyles had to go.

Fyles is a rare case (in modern times) of a head of government who was neither elected at nor faced a general election; other examples in the last 50 years are Tom Lewis and Nathan Rees (NSW), Mike Ahern (Queensland), Ian Tuxworth (NT) and Trevor Kaine (ACT).  Lewis, Rees and Ahern were all rolled and their parties lost the next election (in the last two cases heavily and after the previous Premier was rolled as well).  Kaine's government came and went on the floor of parliament and he faced elections as Liberal leader at both ends of the term.  The only prior NT example, Tuxworth (CLP), quit to start the NT Nationals who soon sank without trace.  In that case the government survived the election, but with a 3.8% swing against it and the loss of three seats to defectors (one of them Tuxworth, barely).  

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

2023 Federal Polling Year In Review

2PP Aggregate Average For 2023: 54.8 To Labor (2023 Preferences)
Labor won almost every poll this year
Labor's lead declined in second half

What I think may well be the last federal voting intention polls of the year have come out and at this point it's time for a regular site feature, my annual review of federal polling.  The 2022 article was here and for earlier articles back to 2014 click on the annual poll review tab.  If any more polls come out I will update this piece accordingly, but perhaps not very quickly.  

2023 was another successful year for the Australian polling industry.  Final polls were rather good (if mostly a bit light on for Labor) in the NSW state election but the biggest test came in the October Voice referendum.  In the face of poll denial levels so out of control that I wrote an article about it, the industry recorded an outstanding result (especially by referendum standards), although a minority of polls had big misses on the Yes side.  

Even without the very richly polled referendum, there was a lot going on in Australian polling this year.  The most dramatic event was the YouGov breakup in which Campbell White and Simon Levy left and started Pyxis Polling and Insights, with the former YouGov continuing with Newspoll for just one poll before it was transferred to Pyxis.  Both Pyxis and YouGov were able through the chaos to be among the best pollsters on the Voice, and polling has been bolstered for now by the addition of a YouGov series that is a Newspoll clone in wording but uses an increasingly different weighting and targeting structure (now even including Voice vote).  

There was also a change at Essential, which belatedly added education to its weighting frame after big misses in the Voice and New Zealand.  This appeared to have quite an impact in the first poll after it happened, but less so since.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Not-A-Poll Reset: Palaszczuk Resigns

It's time to reset the Next Leader To Go Not-A-Poll in the sidebar after the resignation of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her replacement by Steven Miles.  Yet again there was the appearance of a Labor leadership contest that could in theory have gone to a lengthy ballot but for the third time this year the potential contest evaporated.  Member ballots in the Labor Party have been effective in putting a stop to coup culture but far from giving members a much greater say in leadership contests they have instead resulted in there hardly being any contests!

Palaszczuk won the 2015 Queensland election from opposition in a stunning result after her party had been reduced to just seven seats in the 2012 landslide.  Initially governing in minority, she won a majority in 2017 and increased it in the 2020 pandemic election.  Palaszczuk's was in general a steady, middle of the road, almost apolitical government that did not arouse passions either way in the manner of its Victorian counterpart.  If politics in Queensland was not wildly exciting since 2015, Palaszczuk at least deserves credit for restoring it to sanity and stability after the chaos of the Bligh and Newman years.  She is also the only Australian female Premier thus far to win two elections, let alone three, and is still the only female Opposition Leader state or federal to lead her party into government. 

Palaszczuk's ratings were at times mediocre.  She had a -7 netsat in the final 2017 Newspoll, though this was far better than her opponent's.  She slipped to a net -15 in YouGov in early 2020 before being boosted into the low +30s by her handling of the lockdown phase later that year.  She was quite popular towards the end of 2022 but started recording her worst ratings in 2023, especially from mid-year on.  Voters perceived that she had been a good Premier but was no longer in touch.  

Party Registration Tracker 2: The Term After The Crackdown


Parties registered for 2022 election: 38

Parties registered since 2022 election: 3 (1 since deregistered, 1 previously deregistered)

Parties deregistered since 2022 election: 14 (1 tactical deregistration, 1 reregistered under new name)

Parties currently registered: 27

Net change for term: -11

Parties applying for registration: 0 

Parties being considered for deregistration: 4

(Expected that at least 1 of the 4 will be deregistered)


Introduction (December 2023)

In the 2019-2022 term the then Coalition Government introduced two major changes to party registration law. The first was an increase in the registration threshhold from 500 to 1500 members (parliamentary parties excepted).  The second was a ban on parties using words that were contained in the name of an earlier registered party.  I monitored the impacts of these laws in a resource piece called Party Registration Crackdown Tracker.  

I've decided a sequel is warranted because it appears that the 1500 member rule is having ongoing impacts in its second term in operation and that the party list for the expected 2025 election could be smaller than that for 2022, so I think it is worth a similar level of monitoring.  Of the eight parties that climbed Mount 1500 to be newly registered for the 2022 election or shortly afterwards, five are already deregistered and a sixth being considered.  As a result the first half of the expected 2022-25 term has so far seen the largest net decline in parties of any first half of a term.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

"Abyss" Piece Is Another Shanashambles


There is something badly wrong with the op ed sector of the Australian media.  Many outlets continue to pay for articles that are factually shoddy and that reinforce the prejudices of partisan readers rather than helping their readers to actually understand politics.  It's perhaps a vicious cycle in which some outlets think there is no market for anything better than an echo chamber, and by offering a bad product ensure they'll never find out otherwise.

The latest hopeless offering by Dennis Shanahan (screenshot above) is an example.  To be clear, nobody should deny that the Albanese Government has been shedding public support rapidly in recent months. Anyone in Labor's support base who is not at least a little bit concerned about this is a fool. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

2PP Federal Polling Aggregate Relaunched

Introduction (December 2023)

In recent weeks I've relaunched the 2PP aggregate on the sidebar that was a feature here between mid-2013 and the 2019 federal election.  The aim of the aggregate is to present a frequently updated figure for what the current polls should be taken as saying collectively about the state of the two-party preferred contest.  This is never a prediction or a statement that the polls are right, it is just putting a number on where they're at.  A couple of things encouraged me to do this and the first one was a desire to have an up-to-date figure readily available to media now that things are actually happening (my 52.9 estimate from this article was being quoted after my estimate had fallen below 52.)